High-school students’ motivation to learn science
Bryan, Robert Reese
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What motivates high-school students to learn in their science courses? How is students’ motivation related to other student characteristics such as gender, middle-school science background, and career goals? How does students’ motivation influence their achievement in science classes? How do students describe their own motivation to learn science? This study addressed these questions by asking 288 students enrolled in high- school, core-curriculum biology and physical-science classes to respond to an online survey. The survey had two parts: Part A gathered information about student characteristics such as gender, middle-school science background, and career goals, and Part B gathered information about students’ motivation to learn science, using Glynn and Koballa’s (2006a) Science Motivation Questionnaire. All of the students wrote essays describing their motivation to learn science in as much detail as possible. In addition, a sample of the students were individually interviewed about their motivation to learn science. The students’ essays and interviews were used to interpret the Science Motivation Questionnaire responses and shed more light on students’ motivation to learn science. The findings of this study indicated that the Science Motivation Questionnaire had high reliability (internal consistency) and criterion-related validity. The criteria included students’ course grades and their ratings of the relevance of science to their future careers. The findings complement the findings of previous studies of the Science Motivation Questionnaire conducted with college students. The present findings suggest that the Science Motivation Questionnaire is a reliable, valid, and easily administered instrument for science-education researchers conducting studies on the nature of high-school students’ science motivation and science teachers who wish to understand and increase their students’ motivation to learn science.